Leadership with a Care Package: Dana Wellhausen

14 Dec, 2023

Leadership with a Care Package: Dana Wellhausen

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December 14, 2023

Written by Bonnie Look and Rhonnel Sotelo

Building a talented, cohesive team and unleashing them with the flexibility and freedom to own and lead their work is one of the Rogers Family Foundation’s core values. Throughout the remainder of our timeline, we will share our appreciations and reflections on the distinct qualities, accomplishments, and contributions of each Rogers Family Foundation team member. This piece celebrates Dana Wellhausen who joined the Foundation in 2013.

We have known Dana Wellhausen for over a dozen years and have worked together across two foundations. We’ve witnessed her mastery of data systems and her capacity to synthesize student and school information as powerful tools for good. We’ve watched her build and share dynamic presentations that crystallize concepts and ideas into action. We’ve been spoiled by her skills and talent in such abundance that we hold the unshakeable belief that there is nothing Dana cannot do. 

It has been our greatest honor and privilege to behold her growth as a leader and marvel at her ingenuity as the chief architect of nearly every major project we’ve undertaken for the past five years. “I’ve seen her lead on projects big and small, and always with success that appears as a touch of pure magic,” recalls Greg Klein, Senior Director for Innovation and Learning. Behind every smooth team meeting or well-executed plan, you’ll find Dana’s brand of servant leadership. Her unwavering support has been a cornerstone of our success and the positive support we’ve given to grantees.” Dana baked human-centered design, asset-based framing, and trust-based philanthropy into the Foundation’s work. Her fingerprints can be found on our major milestones: RFF’s final Oakland Education Strategy; the 2023 Celebrate/Guide/Inform strategic communications project; the Oakland Celebration event honoring grantees and community partners; the Foundation’s final Grantee Perception Report; and the design and facilitation of a Program Team whose existence is entirely focused on how we can support grantees each day.  

Dana has put her skills to work in service of grantees, and has been especially instrumental in collecting and presenting data to deepen policymaker understanding on A-G requirements. “Dana is the wizard of data. What a total thought partner,” states Kimi Kean, Co-Founder and CEO of Families in Action for Quality Education, “so much knowledge about how to maximize the use of information as a tool for change. She was essential to our efforts to advance A-G policies and in working with (the late) Dirk Tillotson on school report cards.” Another community partner, Energy Convertors Founder Charles Cole III, adds, “Dana’s really helpful and gracious with her time. I worked with her on A-G data and she always let me be me. I could ask all my questions and she’d help me understand what I was looking at.”

As powerful as her impact has been on several grantee partners, it is the imprint of her leadership, humanity, and caring spirit that will most endure among her Rogers Family Foundation colleagues. We are all better leaders having worked with Dana. She has been instrumental in creating a healthy and supportive work culture, and one of the best parts of our jobs is the daily privilege and joy of working alongside her. Dana is an expert in organizational effectiveness, skilled at making space for ideas to emerge and flourish, approaching every conversation with deep humility and empathy, and caringly lifting up the best in each of us – no matter the complexity of the task at hand. We have operated under not just her leadership, but her guardianship. Dana has had our backs, and we’ve been cared for to the fullest extent. “Dana is one of the most caring and supportive people I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” says her long-time RFF colleague Cynthia Suter. “Her work approach is to listen, hear, and be supportive. You can tell through her leadership style that she truly cares about her coworkers as a whole person. Dana is unparalleled in her giving nature, and I sincerely hope I get the chance to work alongside her again.” 

Dana’s integrity and guardianship has set a high bar for our expectations of organizational culture and leadership as we journey to our next destinations. We are confident she will elevate the next team that benefits from her knowledge and brilliance, and can’t help but feel a tinge of envy for the team she lands with next. For those not in the know, Dana’s bag of talents includes a wicked hand at delicious baked goods. This gift is the icing on the cake (pun intended) of the care package that is Dana. Have cookies, will travel.